To prevent the ‘imminent threat’ of smog, the Punjab government has directed the closure of all private offices and educational institutions in Lahore on Mondays, apart from the weekly holidays observed on Saturdays and Sundays till December 15.
The orders were issued by Punjab Relief Commissioner Babar Hayat Tarar, who expressed the hope that the step would act ‘as a preventive and speedy remedy’ to ensure ‘public safety, conserve lives and preempt and mitigate imminent threat of smog in the province of Punjab’.
The new orders apply within the territorial limits of the Lahore Metropolitan Corporation. The statement also says that there is “evidence of ‘persistent deterioration in Air Quality Index of the city of Lahore, fluctuating from satisfactory to poor levels, which is likely to cause breathing discomfort, respiratory tract diseases and heart diseases”. This was termed as the main cause for the decision.
For the past many years, Lahore has consistently been ranked among the most polluted cities in the world. A mixture of low-grade fuel and smoke from seasonal crop burn have been blamed as the major culprits causing the severe form of pollution.
Residents have few options to deal with the situation on their own, and hence many have taken out lawsuits against the government. Authorities, however, have been slow to act, blaming the situation on air flowing in from India and claiming that false figures are being quoted in the media.